Family Business Program to Honor Cornell’s Jewelers

February 23, 2024

The Family Business Program at St. John Fisher University will honor Cornell’s Jewelers with its 100 Year Legacy Award, which recognizes family firms who have demonstrated resiliency within the Rochester business community.

The Cornell Family

With a legacy spanning over a century, Cornell’s Jewelers has transformed from a modest showroom into a distinguished fine jewelry store. In 2023, the retailer celebrated its 100th anniversary and announced that Michael Cornell, a third-generation member of the Cornell family, would transition to CEO.

Cornell’s Jewelers is the second business to be given the 100 Year Legacy Award; in 2019, Fisher honored Doyle Security Systems as the inaugural recipient. Dr. Carol Wittmeyer, director of the Family Business Program and visiting associate professor in the School of Business at Fisher, said that it can be rare for family firms to transition from one generation to the next. She added that family businesses achieving 100 years means three or more generational leadership shifts, often times across periods of both success and inevitably tumult, from either external challenges or challenging family dynamics.

“We know that what keeps family firms around for generations is their resiliency—their ability to dream bold dreams, pivot when needed, and manage planned and unplanned transitions,” said Wittmeyer. “The 100-year family business milestone is one to celebrate, and we are honored to recognize Cornell’s Jewelers, a true gem within the Rochester business community.”

The retail jewelry store was founded by Harry Cornell in 1923, and under his visionary leadership, and that of his son, David Cornell and daughter-in-law, Olivia Cornell, it has earned a reputation for providing exceptional quality and service. The legacy of Cornell’s Jewelers continues with the active involvement of the family. Michael Cornell and his wife, Courtney, are excited to usher Cornell’s into its second century and demonstrate the family’s enduring commitment to the business.

“We are honored to be recognized by the prestigious Family Business Program at St. John Fisher as a centennial business. We have been blown away by the greater Rochester community’s support of our milestone,” said Cornell. “It is a privilege to work along the best in the business and be able to play a small role in celebrating our customers most exciting life moments for 100 years.”

Cornell will formally accept the award during the Family Business Program’s symposium, Successful Successions: Learnings from Rochester Family Firm Leaders and Their Journeys to the Top. Online registration for the event—which begins at 5 on Tuesday, March 12, in Cleary Family Auditorium in Kearney Hall on Fisher’s campus—is now open. For more information, email or call (585) 385-8238.